The National Museum of Industrial History’s annual celebration of all things steel returns this September 25th and 26th! Guests can watch glowing-hot rivets get driven, see rare archival Bethlehem Steel photos, and catch up with old friends at the Steelworkers Reunion.

Steel Weekend coincides with the American Institute of Steel Construction’s SteelDay on September 24th, an annual event dedicated to the structural steel industry.

All Weekend

Tour the Hoover Mason Trestle

The Hoover Mason Trestle (HMT) once supported busy standard and broad gauge railroad tracks for carrying the coke, limestone and iron ore needed to make the iron from the ore yard to the blast furnaces. Now a public walkway designed to be part museum, part community recreation resource, and part attraction, the trestle stands 46 feet tall and features almost 2,000 feet of walkway.

Faces of Steel

Steel Weekend will honor the men and women who worked at Bethlehem Steel with a photo gallery shared  via the outdoor screens at PBS39. The community is invited to submit photos of family members and friends who worked at Bethlehem Steel digitally at nmih.org/facesofsteel. 

Photography of Ed Leskin

Local photographer Ed Leskin turns his lens to Bethlehem Steel in this series of stunning black and white work. Transformed into an outdoor exhibit with large-scale banners hung throughout Foundry Park, guests can enjoy discovering photos as they explore the museum’s new outdoor exhibits.

Foundry Park Tours

Tour the museum’s new Foundry Park in this guided tour with an expert docent. Learn about how the artifacts in the park transformed raw materials into steel, see a 1-million-lb. bending press that predates Bethlehem Steel, and more in this all-ages, family-friendly experience. Weather permitting. Inquire at museum’s front desk.

Exploring Bethlehem’s Lost Neighborhood

Using photographs and memories of surviving residents, this pop-up exhibit from the South Bethlehem Historical Society reconstructs one of the ethnic, working-class neighborhoods that vanished to make way for Bethlehem Steel’s Basic Oxygen Furnace. Composed of immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, and Greece, and African-American transplants from towns spanning Maryland to Texas, Northampton Heights operated as its own borough until being annexed into Bethlehem.

From the Archives: Bethlehem Steel

The National Museum of Industrial History presents recently unearthed photographs from the company’s corporate files in the NMIH Bethlehem Steel Archives. Taken from the 1950s through the plant’s closure by Bethlehem Steel’s in-house photography team, these images provide a rare glimpse into a storied company. Showing in the NMIH Education Center between programs.

Casting, Forging, Blacksmithing, and Riveting Demonstrations

Join NMIH staff and volunteers in Foundry Park for demonstrations throughout Steel Weekend. Live hot riveting demonstrations, blacksmithing, steel forging with a 30-pound power hammer, and kid friendly casting with the museum’s Foundry-in-a-Box program will all occur intermittently throughout each day. Weather permitting.

Interactive Activity Station

Visitors of all ages can join in a series of fun S.T.E.A.M. activities!

  • • Budding artists can learn about famous skyscrapers and bring a Bethlehem Steel building to life with a steel construction coloring book.
  • • Ever wonder how steel is made? Guests can examine the raw materials used in the steelmaking process up close and learn how ‘coke’ and ‘slag’ were made.
  • • Future engineers can try their hand at building an engineering marvel in an experiment of toothpicks and treats.

10AM to 2PM

Plein Air Painting & Drawing Workshop

Steelstacks

Grab your supplies and meet us on the Levitt Lawn for a day of Plein Air drawing & painting, using the historic Bethlehem Steel Stacks as your inspiration! Teaching Artist Lauren Kuhn will be on hand to help guide and support students through the process of creating artwork in the Plein Air process (creating works outside and directly in front of the subject!) Students of all ages and levels are welcome to participate! Please plan to bring your own supplies or easels for set up. Get more information from the Banana Factory.

9AM to 11AM

Steelworker Portraits and Oral History Signups

NMIH Education Center

Former steelworkers are invited to sit for a portrait with photographer Ed Leskin and to speak with volunteers from the Steelworkers Archives to schedule an oral history of their time at Bethlehem Steel.

9:30AM

Steelworkers Archives Walking Tour

Leaves from NMIH Lobby

The steelworker guides will take guests on a multi-faceted journey – from the evolution of iron making in the Lehigh Valley to the history of the Bethlehem Plant from its opening to closing, including its importance in World Wars I and II. Along the way, guests will learn about the remaining buildings on the plant site, life in the ethnic neighborhoods surrounding the plant, and what life was like working at the plant. The 1+ hour tour concludes with a question and answer session. $15 per person, 12 and under free. Tickets and more info here.

11am to 1PM

Steelworkers Reunion Lunch

NMIH Plaza

The Steelworkers Archives celebrates their 20th anniversary with speeches and remarks during lunch on NMIH’s plaza. Former steelworkers are invited to sign up for a free ‘overtime’ lunch by RSVPing here.

1PM

Inside the EFM

NMIH Education Center

Historian, former steelworker, and NMIH volunteer Don Young takes audiences inside Bethlehem Steel’s Electric Furnace Melt Shop in this lecture and slideshow featuring original photography from Don’s time at the plant.

1:30PM

Steelworkers Archives Walking Tour

Leaves from NMIH Lobby

The steelworker guides will take guests on a multi-faceted journey – from the evolution of iron making in the Lehigh Valley to the history of the Bethlehem Plant from its opening to closing, including its importance in World Wars I and II. Along the way, guests will learn about the remaining buildings on the plant site, life in the ethnic neighborhoods surrounding the plant, and what life was like working at the plant. The 1+ hour tour concludes with a question and answer session. $15 per person, 12 and under free. Tickets and more info here.

1:30PM

Steelworkers Storytime

NMIH Plaza/Ruins East Parking Lot

Budding engineers and inventors are invited join to Lester Clore, a 33-year veteran rigger at Bethlehem Steel and volunteer with the Steelworkers Archives, for an interactive story time with Tug! Tug is an artifact at the museum and the subject of a children’s book produced in collaboration with the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Join Lester as he reads Tug and then meet Tug in person!

3PM*

Iron Pour

Foundry Park

A daylong process using the museum’s miniature iron melting furnace culminates in a molten iron pour and casting demonstration late in the afternoon.  Rain date is Sunday, September 26th.

Create your own design in iron

Arrive at 11 AM Saturday to carve a sand mold that will be filled with 2800 degree Fahrenheit molten iron at the end of the day.  Participants will create a 4 inch by 4 inch iron tile.  The impression carved into the sand will become raised surfaces on the tile.  $25 fee.  Limited supplies.  First come first served at the front desk of the Museum. Pickup your creation the next day after it cools down.  

* Time subject to change earlier or later based on conditions.

3:30PM

The Need for Speed in Steel Construction

with AISC Director of Research Devin Huber

NMIH Education Center

The AISC has recently undertaken an initiative known as the ‘Need for Speed’ to help speed up steel design, fabrication, and erection in total by 50% by the end of 2025. This presentation will describe this effort and the specific projects that are being done to meet the ambitious goals of the initiative. Projects relating to steel buildings and bridges will be highlighted that are believed to help us meet the desired speed increase in the timeline we have set out. The presentation will also provide further insight into the market data and other technical data AISC uses to choose what aspects of the structural steel industry it needs to focus its efforts on to keep the industry moving forward. In all, the session will provide an inside look at the efforts that help keep structural steel construction competitive and resilient moving ahead into the future.

7:30PM

Scenes from the Steel Photography Workshop

Foundry Park

Join NMIH Historian Mike Piersa and staff photographer Glenn Koehler for a photo workshop that will take you back in time as volunteer models relive scenes from Bethlehem Steel. Snap long exposures as sparks fly, take portraits of workers dressed up in real blast furnace suits, and create timeless images for your portfolio. Additional fee. Space limited. Tickets available here.

9AM to 11AM

Steelworker Portraits and Oral History Signups

NMIH Education Center

Former steelworkers are invited to sit for a portrait with photographer Ed Leskin and to speak with volunteers from the Steelworkers Archives to schedule an oral history of their time at Bethlehem Steel.

9:30AM

Steelworkers Archives Walking Tour

Leaves from NMIH Lobby

The steelworker guides will take guests on a multi-faceted journey – from the evolution of iron making in the Lehigh Valley to the history of the Bethlehem Plant from its opening to closing, including its importance in World Wars I and II. Along the way, guests will learn about the remaining buildings on the plant site, life in the ethnic neighborhoods surrounding the plant, and what life was like working at the plant. The 1+ hour tour concludes with a question and answer session. $15 per person, 12 and under free. Tickets and more info here.

11am to 1PM

Steelworkers Reunion Lunch

NMIH Plaza

The Steelworkers Archives celebrates their 20th anniversary with speeches and remarks during lunch on NMIH’s plaza. Former steelworkers are invited to sign up for a free ‘overtime’ lunch by RSVPing here.

1:30PM

Innovation and Ingenuity at Homer Research Labs

NMIH Education Center

Former employees from Bethlehem Steel’s Homer Research Laboratories discuss the history behind the company’s sprawling research complex, the largest steel testing lab in the world when it was built in 1961. Situated across 1,000 acres, Homer’s eight massive buildings housed classified research into thermodynamics, metallurgy, and ceramics, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and methodologies.

1:30PM

Steelworkers Archives Walking Tour

Leaves from NMIH Lobby

The steelworker guides will take guests on a multi-faceted journey – from the evolution of iron making in the Lehigh Valley to the history of the Bethlehem Plant from its opening to closing, including its importance in World Wars I and II. Along the way, guests will learn about the remaining buildings on the plant site, life in the ethnic neighborhoods surrounding the plant, and what life was like working at the plant. The 1+ hour tour concludes with a question and answer session. $15 per person, 12 and under free. Tickets and more info here.

1:30PM

Steelworkers Storytime

NMIH Plaza/Ruins East Parking Lot

Budding engineers and inventors are invited to join Lester Clore, a 33-year veteran rigger at Bethlehem Steel and volunteer with the Steelworkers Archives, for an interactive story time with Tug! Tug is an artifact at the museum and the subject of a children’s book produced in collaboration with the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Join Lester as he reads Tug and then meet Tug in person!

3PM to 5PM

TNT Trio Performance

Air Products Pavilion at Foundry Park

Steel Weekend closes out with a musical performance by the TNT Trio at the Air Products Pavilion.

6PM to 8PM

Photo Walk Workshop on Hoover Mason Trestle

Steelstacks

Join Banana Factory instructor Scott Piccotti for a photo walk along the scenic Hoover-Mason Trestle. Get more information from the Banana Factory.

Don Young

In addition to co-authoring Bethlehem Steel: A Photographic History, Mr. Young spent 33 years working at the company’s Bethlehem plant, and 56 years total working for Bethlehem Steel as an electric furnace melt department foreman. In his retirement he enjoys volunteering with NMIH.

Devin Huber

Devin Huber is the Director of Research for the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) based out of Chicago, IL. The AISC is a non-partisan, not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. In his role with AISC, Dr. Huber oversees all the institute’s research activities related to both structural steel-framed buildings and bridges. He also participates in various technical committees and ensures AISC’s research activities align with the broader goals of the institute.

Mike Piersa

Mike is NMIH’s Historian and graduated with a Bachelor’s in History from Moravian College and a Master’s in History from Lehigh University. He has been with NMIH for over 17 years and was instrumental in the research and interpretation behind the museum’s collections as well as the restoration of historical industrial equipment both at the museum and at outside facilities. His quarry machinery preservation work resulted in him becoming an MSHA Certified Miner and taking leading roles in important restoration and preservation projects across the country, including the Bangor Quarry Hoist Project, a collaboration between the Totts Gap Arts Institute, the American Industrial Mining Company Museum, and the Borough of Bangor, PA. Mike has presented across the country on his work with industrial heritage and in 2019 published The Big Green Machine, a short book detailing the history, preservation, and operational restoration of NMIH’s 115-ton stationary steam engine.

Dr. John G. Speer

Professor John G. Speer is the American Bureau of Shipping Endowed Chair in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, and Director of the Advanced Steel Processing and Products Research Center. He graduated from Liberty High School in Bethlehem, received a B.S. degree from Lehigh University (1980) in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, and a D.Phil. in Physical Metallurgy from the University of Oxford, UK (2003). He worked at the Homer Research Laboratories of Bethlehem Steel Corporation from 1983-1997, until moving to Colorado in 1997. John also served as Mines’ Associate Vice-President for Research from 2008-2013. He is a Distinguished Member of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology, Fellow of ASM International, Past-President of AIME – the American Institute of Metallurgical, Mining and Petroleum Engineers, and is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Neal Griffing

Born in 1933, Neal Griffing was a farmboy who walked dirt roads to a one-room elementary country school during World War II. Eventually, his education continued in more elegant schoolrooms at Lehigh University where he graduated in 1955 with a BS in Metallurgical Engineering. He spent his entire career working as a research metallurgist concerned with the melting and refining of steel. He was employed at three companies: Union Carbide and Carbon 9 years, Crucible Steel 5 years and Homer Research Labs of Bethlehem Steel 25 years. Ladle Metallurgy became his specialty. Important projects included desulfurization of steel in a 10-ton ladle now sitting in the NMIH Park. The heats were melted in the 10-ton electric arc furnace standing in the park. This equipment from the experimental melt shop at Homer Research was also used to develop a chemical procedure for reheating ladles of steel with aluminum and oxygen. The desulfurization and reheating processes were implemented at Bethlehem Steel Plants located at Steelton, Sparrows Point and Burns Harbor. Mr. Griffing worked with the related engineering, technology and operating departments to design, train personnel and start up these facilities.

After retirement in 1995, Mr. Griffing did some part-time consulting, but mostly pursued his interests in hiking, golfing, harvesting firewood and travel. Mr. Griffing and his wife Jane enjoy hosting gatherings with their children, grandchildren and friends.

Mahesh Vyas

Mahesh Vyas holds a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. He retired from a long career for the Bethlehem Steel Research Department spanning 36 years, in December 2005. Among the many projects worked on, Mahesh Vyas was heavily involved in the hot rolling of shapes for Bar Mills, Rail Mills, and Structural Mills. Project work at Bethlehem Plant (Saucon Plant) included improving the processes of rolling of W F Beams and other complex sections, including developing rolling practices of new sections of sheet piling. Additionally, Vyas worked on various projects at Sparrows Point, Steelton, Johnstown, Lackawanna, Burns Harbor Plants and also worked on flat rolling projects.

Premiere Sponsor

Blast Furnaces Sponsors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *